Due to increases in demand, ship times on some orders may be delayed an estimated 1 month or more. See In Stock Products

How to Build Your Own Chicken Coop

Recently, we’ve noticed a lot of neighbors starting to build chicken coops in their backyards. Chicken coops are a fantastic way for them to have fresh eggs and natural chicken on their dinner table.

Chicken coops allow you to be more self-sufficient, enabling you to raise your own food and implementing a stronger work ethic around your home. With neighbors and customers asking us about how they can be self-sufficient with their own chicken coop, we decided to write an article on how to build one.

If building a chicken coop is too much for you, you can always purchase one at a decent price. Also, don’t forget that you can always depend on freeze-dried Chicken or our EasyPrep Freeze-Dried Chicken Bucket. You get quality chicken without having to build anything.

Comment below and tell us what you’ve found helpful in building your chicken coop. Share this with a friend or family member to let them know you want to build one for yourself.

chicken coop blueprintWhere to house the flock
The first thing you’ll need to determine is where you’re going to set up your coop. Portable housing is ideal for chickens because it’s nice to periodically relocate them to fresh land. Many people rotate between three locations. However, this requires more land than normal.

If you don’t have a lot of land to move around on, it’s important to know where you are going to build your chicken coop. A good alternative is to divide the area around your coup into different areas and partition off certain sections at a time to allow vegetation to grow back. An ideal location for a coop is on a hill or slope that offers good drainage during rainy weather.

Depending on your maintenance restraints, you should consider building a fenced area onto the chicken coop. This keeps the chickens from getting into your garden and lets you control where they eat. The disadvantages to this, however, are that you have to bring them their feed each time.

Weather Accommodations
Depending on what type of weather you get throughout the year, you might have to install heating systems or good insulation in your chicken coop.

If you live in a mild-weathered area, your coop won’t need to be much more than a protective shelter from heavy rain and wind. In a harsh climate where the chickens are kept year-round, the insulation needs to keep chickens warm and keep combs and wattles from freezing.

How much space do I need?
The more room that chickens have, the better. Overcrowding your chickens leads to stress that can result in chickens fighting - pecking each other's feathers or flesh.

The minimum living space per chicken is usually figured to be about 4 square feet per heavy breed chicken and 3 square feet per light breed chicken. If the chickens are not allowed to roam around in a pen or yard, you need to make this space bigger. A heavy breed will need about 10 square feet while a light breed will need about 7.5 square feet of enclosed space.

Outdoor Indoor Only
# of Chickens Heavy Breed Light Breed Heavy Breed Light Breed
1 4 sq ft 3 sq ft 10 sq ft 7.5 sq ft
2 8 sq ft 6 sq ft 20 sq ft 15 sq ft
3 12 sq ft 9 sq ft 30 sq ft 22.5 sq ft
4 16 sq ft 12 sq ft 40 sq ft 30 sq ft
5 20 sq ft 15 sq ft 50 sq ft 37.5 sq ft
6 24 sq ft 18 sq ft 60 sq ft 45 sq ft
7 28 sq ft 21 sq ft 70 sq ft 52.5 sq ft
8 32 sq ft 24 sq ft 80 sq ft 60 sq ft
9 36 sq ft 27 sq ft 90 sq ft 67.5 sq ft
10 40 sq ft 30 sq ft 100 sq ft 75 sq ft
15 60 sq ft 45 sq ft 150 sq ft 112.5 sq ft
20 80 sq ft 60 sq ft 200 sq ft 150 sq ft
25 100 sq ft 75 sq ft 250 sq ft 187.5 sq ft

Remember that these are the minimum sizes that you need to make a chicken coop. The bigger the area, the more comfortable the chickens will be.

General rules to consider
A poultry house should be warm, dry, well-lit, and include ventilated shelter with convenient arrangements for roosts, feeding space and nest boxes. Fowls will stop laying eggs and their health will suffer when confined in cold, wet or dark conditions. Windows should be installed on the south or southeast sides. They should also be big enough to admit the sun freely and be able to slide open to increase circulation during the summer. During the winter, focus on providing enough light to the chickens while still keeping them warm.

Beyond those general requirements, your chicken coop can take on a lot of different sizes and designs. Here are a few that you might consider:

Small Coop Design
This design, is pretty small - 2x2 feet and 2.5 feet tall. It will typically house 1-2 chickens. The nesting box is located on the back of the coop and has a lid for easy egg collection.

• Accommodates 2 chickens
• Ventilated on the back wall
• Above ground for easier egg collection
• A roost for chickens to perch
• Two door entry

Check out the design images below and get instructions on how to build this design here.

Medium Coop Design
This is designed for about 4 chickens. It has an easy access side and is a sturdy design.

• 32 square feet
• Pitched roof for weather
• Above ground for easier egg collection
• Windows for light
• Insulation on the sides

You can click on the images below to see larger details or get instructions on how to build this coop here.

Large Coop Design
This house is pretty large. You’ll need about 8 ft by 12 feet to build it. Check out the images below and print off the free instructions.

• 8 ft by 12 ft
• Rock bottom to protect against burrowing predators
• 7 feet tall
• Door access on the side
• Easy coop access with retractable entries

You can find these designs and many others at backyardchickens.com. They have plenty of great designs submitted by users.

What do you think?
Comment below to tell us what you've found helpful in creating your own chicken coop. How has it helped you be more self-sufficient?

Don't forget to check out our complete DIY archives and food storage supplies for ultimate DIY preparation.

34 thoughts on “How to Build Your Own Chicken Coop”

  • Brittany

    Cool! The table will definitely come in handy! I'm forwarding this to my husband. He has some work to do! :)

  • Cyndi

    We just built one this summer. We live in Florida. Things we have already learned.... No such thing as to much ventilation. No matter what you build "make" sure you don't have to bend or climb in to clean, it gets very tiresome and makes the chore something you dread. We are older and our backs aren't made to shovel without being able to stand. After spending way to much to build our chicken coop we built an A-frame style for our new turkeys from design plans we found online for less then a quarter of cost and love it. Would love to build one for our chickens but can't justify it because we put so much money into chicken coop already.

  • David B.

    I built a coop similar to the one pictured in the article 2 years ago. A person at work gave me 5 "free" chickens and after spending about $600 in supplies, we have backyard chickens. Having never seen a live chicken before, we have found they are very low maintenance and easy to care for. Ours are for eggs only unless we get really desperate!

  • mark wise

    THanks the large coop plans and pictures. They gave me lots of ideas. It is time for some chickens and fresh eggs!

  • shar

    Thanks I really need all the info. Maybe add a material list.The pics are a great help. Also a follow-up on the different kinds,care. and food for the different chickens.

  • createsjg

    Fresh eggs are so superior in taste and with the economy on the precipice it is good to have the food as it is a great source of protein. Thanks for the info and the chart to make it fit anyone's needs

  • PMEdge

    I found that using 1" wire works alot better at keeping predators and SNAKES out of a chicken coop, it costs more, but the benefits are much greater. Nothing wakes you up faster than opening the chicken nesting area and coming face to face with a snake eating the eggs!!

  • Diversified Dan
    Diversified Dan October 11, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Good information to have. I built one similar to the large one pictured, except I mounted it on 4x4 skids. This allowed me to move it occasionally by just hooking up to my lawn tractor and sliding it to a new location. This has to be done or the nitrogen rich "chicken exhaust" will kill all the vegetation in the enclosure.

  • woody

    Great article! I'd like to suggest an update, whereby you provide info on the minimum amount of land needed for a healthy, heavy chicken to roam. Or will they do just fine being cooped up in the coop?

  • Kt

    Can they be raised in new jersey cold winters

    • Northwoods Cheryl
      Northwoods Cheryl July 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm

      I have Auracaunas, aka "Americanas". I raise them in the northern Wisconsin climate where it gets to 30 BELOW zero almost every winter at some point. No problem at all, as long as the chickens can stay out of the wind, and up off the ground on a decent roost. I also jack up the feed they get by adding a small amount of Friskies cat food to their feed at those times. I use Friskies because the pieces are an easy shape for a chicken to swallow. "X" shaped pieces do not work well, nor do larger "O" shapes. The added protein and small amount of fat in it really helps in cold weather, and at heavy egg laying times as well.

  • TNlawguy

    @Kt There are chickens for about every climate. Try looking online for a directory of chicken breeds (the Chicken Whisperer's site is: http://www.chickenwhisperer.net; and another resource for info is: http://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/chicken-breeds). You can also check with farmers in your general area. They can tell you what has worked for them. You might also check out Meetup groups in your area, but you don't say what part of NJ you are in, but here's a shot: http://www.meetup.com/JERSEY-SHORE-HOMESTEADERS-GROUP/. There are several breeds that are considered winter hardy, but you still need to take steps for them to get out of the weather and obtain warmth. There are several ways to do that in a coop - lights on a a thermostat, etc. Good luck.

  • Aislinn

    Yes Kt, chickens can be raised in New Jersey, just make sure you put them in the coop at night or if there's a really cold spell or blizzard.
    I had them in the North and they didn't mind the
    snow. However I kept heat lamps inside my chicken coops. Place them high enough so that
    they don't get burned on them and sucure the cords so they don't get tangled on them and make sure you turn them off when it's not cold or they
    can over heat which could kill them as easy as
    the freezing temps. Chickens will tend to roost
    close to one another for body heat, but they need those heat lamps when it's really cold.

  • Rachelle

    This is absolutely GENIUS!!! Thank you for the pictures and instructions, this is by far one of the simplest and most practical designs I've ever seen! Good work!!!

  • Rachelle

    Lol that was in regards to the "large coop design"

  • Anne H

    I have yet to see anything on what to do with chickens that are no longer producing eggs. I know they can get too old; so what happens in that case?
    Also, I recall my grandparents kept chickens and having fresh roast chicken for Sunday dinner. I never knew how that happened but now I can figure it out. But not sure I could do THAT to one of my chickens! Does anyone have an answer for me?

    • Dan

      That's a great question Anne, what do you do after 3-5 years when your laying hens slow or quit production? Well this is when the decision to farm meets the owners responsibility to cull his flock. Fresh eggs are nice and chickens are cute pets....not. They are a food source and you would be hard pressed not to consider this because the time will come when it's time to put up or shut up if you don't consider that people don't want your non productive old hens. There's no old hen retirement homes. Old hens aren't very good to roast or fry but make excellent Stew broth, chicken and dumplings, etc.. Yes, the true responsibility comes in as a farmer and butchering is part of it and a fact of life or death in this case. At this time of actually killing your animals as your responsibility as a farm animal owner will need to be weighed. Do you have the stomach for it? Most farmers don't like butchering an animal for others that play weekend farmer and don't want to own the responsibility that comes along with it. They may show you the first time how it's done but expect you to to man up, or woman up in your case. Don't name your chickens, leave that for the kids or grand kids. You don't want to have to pay 50 bucks to have a vet put your chickens down do we?


    i have seen a lot of information and i think this is the best i've read and i had tested it out and it works.but i had a chicken that died cried alot

  • Valkyrie 2001

    My wife got tired of having to go out and open the coop door to let the chickens out, so I came up with a simple solution. I designed and built a automatic coop door opener. Using a photocell mounted to the north side of the coop and a home made circuit with an op-amp for the cell and a one second, one shot timer to activate a relay that would pull in a door latch solenoid. The door has a spring attached to it so when the morning sunlight hits the photocell, the solenoid activates and bingo! The door opens. I also put a solar panel on it to keep the battery charged. She still closes it every night by hand but that's fine because she does a head count (4 hens and two roosters). The things I go through for fresh free range chicken eggs :-)

  • noname

    im 11 and want chickens for christmas what kind of chickens should i ask santa for ? i want some i can play with and arent evil and attack you

  • Zor

    Anne H.,
    The term 'spent' is used for hens that are done laying. As for what you do with them you have some choices.
    1. Let them free range around yoyr yard where they will continue to serve as an excellent insecticide.
    2. Slaughter tthem, but her meat will be very tough so will best best in a soup. Also note, breeds known as 'layers' don't have nearly the meat on them that 'fryers' or 'broilers' have.
    3. Give them to someone who wants the fertilizer and insecticde services the spent hen can offer.

    I would like to offer that if you plan to eat your spent hens, you don't give them names.

  • Jeff GreenspanName
    Jeff GreenspanName January 18, 2014 at 3:11 am

    I wish you featured an 'organic' freeze-dried chicken product. I bought your chicken, anyway, but I prefer organic... I'm just saying

  • Doug


    Different breeds of chickens do have different temperaments. In my experience the "easy going" chickens include the feather footed Brahams (an Asian breed), and Rhode Island Reds.
    Both can be a gentle breed, but the Reds' roosters can be a tad aggressive at times, but usually not if treated well, and hand fed. Hand feeding daily really makes a difference in having gentle birds.

  • betty

    I didn't see any mention of the expense in raising your own chickens. It is not cheap for feed and bedding but like any hobby it does bring great satisfaction. And one side note, being the "favorite" grandparents cause we have pet chickens doesn't hurt. Lol

  • Guest

    Some additional points to ponder: I built our coop using the frame from an old 16' travel trailer. This allows it to be moved around our ten acre horse ranch as needed. I used 2X4 construction, strand board plywood sheets and a metal roof. Given our northwest climate, I installed heat lamps that are controlled from a Home Depot theromo cube that directs power to the lamps when the temps drop to 35 degrees. I also constructed the coop to allow access to the nest boxes from outside the coop via sloped access doors. The coop also has a large common area where the water and feed dispensers are located. This is enclosed with two ramps that can be raised when the chickens are locked in for the night. I used some dog run panels covered with vinyl chicken wire for the common area. In the winter months, I cover the north facing side of the common area with plastic tarp to provide protection from the wind.

  • Ron

    If you plan on eating your chickens do it before the local black bears wake up from hibernation. If your coop could be broken into by a couple of football players, it will be no match for a couple hundred pounds of ursus americanus.

  • audrey

    I have some questions I want to build a plain box dose it have to be off the ground? What kind of feed do they need? When is the best time to start?

  • Jimmy steel

    You eat old chicken also kids should not play with chickens I was raised on a ranch most of my life grand parents made everything butter cream milk all the chicken lay or we're ate on Sunday also a smoke house for ham pork chops and beef it was a great life

  • Drew

    Does anyone have a rough idea how expensive it would be to build the large coop? Thank you

  • Kathy

    The coop plan are great. Personally I am looking for much larger. Also something for a northern Minnesota winter. The coop needs to be big enough to house egg laying chickens indoors all winter, but they can be indoor/outdoor in summer. Your large coop is to small to house them indoor all winter here. Plus I'm looking at around 60 hens. I need all the help I can get in finding some plans. Currently using a friends coop that is attached to her garages.

  • Chuck

    We had chickens for years, until county code enforcement told us our lot was too small for chickens.

  • TS

    Has anyone ever used(or saw one used) an old refrigerator for the nest boxes? I'm thinking it's water proof and insulated for winter. I plan on cutting the hole in the side for entry. My wife can simply open the frig door and reach in for the eggs. I can't seem to find any pics or any design examples at all.

  • jon

    I put wheels on the heavy end of the coup and it is nice to move around.

Leave a Reply